How supported are your travellers if an emergency strikes during an overseas work trip?
Does your business have a travel risk management plan in place?
Do you know who to call if one of your travellers needs an international emergency medical flight?
According to leading travel provider for Australia’s small business sector Corporate Traveller, all businesses should have a formal travel risk management plan in place.
National Account Management Leader at Corporate Traveller Australia, Sally King said this would ensure at a basic level you are meeting your duty of care obligations for your travelling employees.
“As part of Australia’s Duty of Care legislation, employers are responsible for their employees while they are travelling domestically and overseas. We recommend our clients have a travel policy in place that includes clear guidelines on how the business should manage travel emergencies or a crisis event,” Sally said.
“Obviously duty of care is an important aspect of travel. It’s about making sure your travellers have got the correct phone numbers to call for support, that you can track where they are and contact them, that you have resources available to you if you need an emergency medical flight for an overseas traveller and much more.”
“Your travel risk plans should be formalised and everyone in the business should have easy access to them – so everyone is on the same page.”
Sally said one of the key ways to ensure you are meeting your duty of care obligations was to make sure everyone was booking with your preferred travel provider, aka your Corporate Traveller consultant or team!
“By consolidating all of your bookings through the one channel your business has complete visibility of everyone’s itinerary and access to their contact details,” she said.
Below are a few other recommendations for effective travel risk management:
Update your travel policy
Having a clear and well-defined travel policy will ensure expectations are clear regarding the type of travel allowed and maintaining visibility of traveller whereabouts. Using designated booking channels enables you to track employees’ movements quickly. Bookings made ad-hoc on independent travel websites can make it difficult to track and contact your employees.
Give travellers the right tools and support lines
Ensuring travellers have the right tools to manage their travel and that they know who to contact when things go wrong is critical!
“Fortunately, technology is helping us stay connected and informed like never before, so your travellers can be contacted and have the tools at their fingertips to manage changes to itineraries and communicate easily,” Sally said.
“Utilising a travel manager, someone to physically talk to in the event of difficulty is usually the best way of resolving a situation and is reassuring for the traveller.”
Travellers nowadays have access to mobile travel tools and apps that are far more responsive and informative.
Corporate Traveller’s parent company Flight Centre Travel Group has recently unveiled Sam. Sam is a mobile travel assistant app that uses a blend of AI (artificial intelligence) and integrated travel consultant support. Sam fulfils the necessary travel management functions but goes a step further by tracking a traveller’s location, providing real-time information for traffic and flight delays, and features interactive city guides, weather updates and gate changes.
Choose your suppliers carefully
It’s important to use reputable and trustworthy suppliers, particularly for hotels, airlines and car hire companies. Your business’ selection of suppliers will influence a traveller’s overall travel experience. If you are using local suppliers make sure they have been vetted or are recommended by your travel consultant.
Assessing your supplier list as part of your travel policy development with your travel provider will help to weed out any hoteliers or airlines people may not feel comfortable staying at.
Don’t compromise your safety and quality standards in lieu of a cheaper option with an unknown supplier!
Utilise travel risk management services
Many travel programs will benefit from services provided by travel risk management providers such as International SOS who provide medical and travel security services and iJET who deliver intelligence-based information and alerts on events worldwide 24/7 365 days a year to travellers and organisations.
“These dedicated services will provide support in the event that something does go wrong along with important updates on security concerns and disruptions in the form of trip-related alerts and communications,” Sally said.
“Corporate Traveller customers each get two free iJET alert subscriptions with the ability to subscribe to additional alerts as required.”
One of the most important components of any travel program is traveller insurance. Travel insurers play a central role when it comes to providing financial and logistical on the ground support in a crisis.
Sally said that global travel insurer Cover-More had an in-house team of Corporate Traveller specialists that worked closely with their medical team and provided repatriation services travel for policy-holders.
“Cover-More also provides security and risk management briefings, which can be very helpful if you have travellers going to high-risk destinations.
Use Frequent flyer programs
“Frequent flyer programs have always been thought of in terms of rewards, but I think they're also incredibly important tools from a risk management and traveller comfort perspective,” Sally said. “An airline frequent flyer program provides another layer of visibility and channel of communication for businesses as well. They will know if a guest has entered their lounge or if a flight is late.”
Putting travellers at the heart of your policy
By using traveller-centric strategy for policies, businesses are also getting creative about traveller safety and experience. A company might look at placing greater emphasis on hotel comfort by having travellers fly premium economy instead of business class and putting those savings into a 5-star hotel upgrade.
“Travellers are seeing benefits in employees having a better hotel experience coupled with them also receiving a free annual leave day either at the beginning or end of their work so that they can gain a better cultural experience of the destination and be better rested,” Sally said.
“This has had a positive effect on the company’s travellers and improved the way they approached their business meetings. It’s important to recognise that there are other ways to look after travellers by understanding what’s important to them.”